Interviewee: William H. Chandler
Interviewer: Sid Johnston
Date: January 15, 1985
William H. Chandler is a graduate of the University of Florida, class of 1945. He
was president of his law class. He is a member of Florida Blue Key and Phi Beta
Kappa. Chandler is a senior partner of the law firm Chandler, Gray, Lang & Howell.
Chandler was born September 6, 1920, in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a
manager of the southeastern states division of Gulf Oil. Chandler's father's brother
was Walter Chandler, a prominent lawyer and Congressman from Tennessee
(1935-1940). His father was also friends with John J. Tigert, who later became
president of the University of Florida. The family moved to Gainesville in 1935, and
Chandler finished high school at the old Gainesville High School on University Avenue,
near present-day Alachua General Hospital. He participated in athletics, particularly
football and baseball, and helped his father run gas stations in Gainesville. Chandler
describes Gainesville in the late 1930s.
After high school, Chandler enrolled at the University of Florida. He majored in
English and earned a B.A. in 1941. He continued to work in the gas stations, and he
owned several by this time. He continued on to work on a master's degree in English,
and he taught English writing in the University College. He switched to law after one
year. In the interview, Chandler discusses law professors Clarence TeSelle, Harry
Trusler, Dean Slagle, and James Day, as well as women law students and the law
library. For social activities, he busied himself with the Florida Players, SAE fraternity,
the debate team, UF athletics (as a spectator), movies, and fishing. Due to a heart
condition, Chandler was ineligible for military duty during World War II. He discusses
the effects of the war, especially rationing and patriotism, on Gainesville and the law
Chandler earned his law degree in 1945 and went to work in the law firm of
Jordan, Lazenby & Bell. He comments on the future of law, particularly in
administrative law (government).
J: How are you this morning, Mr. Chandler?
C: Pretty good. How about you?
J: Very well, thank you. A little nippy outside, but other than that, I am in good
shape. Where were you born?
C: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. You want to know when?
C: September 6, 1920.
J: And who were your parents?
C: My father was Hugh C. Chandler, and my mother was Margaret S. Chandler.
J: What did your dad do for a living?
C: He was in the Gulf Oil business. He worked for the company for a good number
of years, and then semi-retired to Gainesville and ran the Gulf agencies around
J: What did he do in Georgia in terms of working for Gulf?
C: Well, he worked for Gulf when they were really just getting started as a big
company. He first was connected with a pump company which sold the first
pumps that oil companies purchased to pump gasoline in automobiles. Later, he
went to work for Gulf and worked for them for years and years. He was manager
of the states of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. They had
big offices in Atlanta. He was in that phase of the business. Then he went to
Pittsburgh and was an officer of the company. He was running a good portion of
the company sales department, but he decided he did not like that and did not
want us to move to Pittsburgh. So he returned home, and then we moved to
J: He was a very successful businessman.
C: Yes, he was.
J: What brought him to Florida?
C: He wanted to see what it was like, I guess, and he wanted to live in the state of
Florida. That is the reason he came. He liked it here.
J: Now where did you go to elementary school and middle school?
C: For elementary school, I went to a school in Atlanta called Highland School, and
then when I got through that I went to a junior high school called William A. Bass
Junior High School. Then I went to the first high school grade, probably the
ninth grade, though I have forgotten which, at what they called Boys High School.
And then we moved to Florida.
J: Were all three of those schools in the Atlanta area?
J: What year did you move to Florida with your parents?
C: The end of 1935 or the beginning of 1936. It is kind of hard to say which one
because we moved during the Christmas holidays.
J: How did the depression affect your father's work with Gulf Oil?
C: It made it busier. During the days of NRA and those things, the big corporations
were required to hire employees, or perhaps they voluntarily did it, but they did
have big campaigns to hire people to run filling stations and other kinds of work.
So he was hiring lawyers and engineers and all kinds of professionals to run
filling stations. I remember they had a crash campaign where they had to hire
hundreds of them, and people were lined up to get some work, and most of them
were professional people.
J: Was part of the intent to move to Gainesville because it was a university city?
C: No, he just liked Gainesville and liked this part of the state.
J: What did your mama do for a living?
C: Nothing. She just raised children.
J: How many children?
J: Do you have a brother or sister?
C: A brother named Walter B. Chandler.
J: How old is he?
C: Walter is sixty-one, I guess.
J: When was he born?
C: He was born in December 1924, I believe. I think it was December 14, 1924.
J: Was there any background of law in your family?
C: Yes, my father's brother, Walter Chandler, was a very prominent lawyer. He
handled a lot of big cases, including the one person, one vote case that came out
of Tennessee. It established the principle that you had to give everyone a vote,
which pertains to reapportionment of the legislature. He started that. He also
helped write the rules of civil procedure in 1938 which are the rules we all
practice under. He wrote the Bankruptcy Act, which was called the Chandler
J: Was that for the laws of Tennessee?
C: No, for the United States. He was in the United States Congress. He was a
lawyer primarily, but he was also a congressman.
J: How well did you know him?
C: Walter Chandler?
C: Oh, I knew him pretty well. He was one of my uncles.
J: Where did he live?
C: Memphis, Tennessee.
J: So would you say that he had an influence on you going into law?
J: Well, when did you first become intrigued with law or practicing law?
C: Well, I talked about it and flirted around with it for years, and never really decided
to do it. I did not know whether I would like it. But I guess a lot of people
pushed me into law more than my uncle did. He never said anything at all about
it. But people around Gainesville would try to get me to go to law school and
then practice with them later. I finally just decided I wanted to do it myself. I did
not talk to anybody. I just wanted to do it. I had been teaching a little, and the
English department at the university wanted me to be an English professor.
They were urging me to do this, and everybody was pushing me into that, but I
finally decided I did not want to do that, and instead wanted to be a lawyer. I
would imagine, though I do not remember this, that I could have had a
reservation in my mind that I would go to law school for semester or so, and if I
did not like it, I would do something else.
J: When you were here in high school, did you have any jobs in law firms? Did you
have any part-time or full-time jobs when you were in high school here?
C: No. No part-time or full-time jobs when I was in high school.
J: When did you graduate from high school?
C: Either 1937 or 1938.
J: What were your hobbies in those days?
C: Well, I used to do all the sports. Back in those days, we did not have quite as
many people playing sports, but I liked to do that.
J: Did you play football and baseball?
C: I played football and baseball, and did the works.
J: Did you play on the high school team as well?
C: I played on the high school team, and I played on the college team until I got a
little messed up, and then they made me quit.
J: How did you get messed up?
C: Well, the college did not have anything to do with me getting messed up, but
after I finally got around to taking a physical exam, they said my heart condition
was such that they did not know whether there was anything wrong with it, but it
was best not to take a chance. I never did know what it was.
J: It certainly has not visibly affected you.
C: No. Not that I know of. I am getting along with it pretty well. But I did have to
quit playing football.
J: How would say the Depression in general affected your youth while growing up
and attending high school in Gainesville?
C: Well, my father had a very responsible position with his oil company and so we
never suffered from that standpoint. Now, everybody suffered, do not
misunderstand me. There is no such thing as anybody not suffering because
you did not even want, much less afford, all the things you have now, and the
most menial laborer now does a whole lot better than people of responsible
position did during the Depression. I can give you examples of how bad it was,
but I think it has been pretty well documented what the Depression did. Money
was a big commodity in those days, and in the law business an hour's wages
now was a month's wages in those days. I make as much in one hour now as I
used to earn when I first started working and when I first got married in a whole
J: It has changed considerably then.
C: Yes. I made fifteen dollars a week when I got married, and gave my wife five
dollars to buy the groceries, to buy food, to buy fuel to put in the kerosene stove
so we could cook and do the laundry and all those kinds of things. And then of
course I had to pay the rent out of it. From that moment on, I had to save ten
per cent of what I made, so I put a dollar and a half in the First National Bank
every week. But that is how much money was worth in those days.
J: Did you know you were going to go to college after you graduated from high
school? Was there ever any question in your mind about it?
C: No, though there might have been, I guess, if I had lived in a place where there
was no college. But living here in Gainesville there was not any question.
People would have paid my way, I think, if it had got down to that, but they did
not have to. I had the money to do it.
J: Did you have a master plan of what kind of work you wanted to do?
C: That I wanted to do when I went to college? No.
J: Did you have it all planned out, or were you kind of like the rest of us, going to
college and testing the water here and there?
C: Well, yes. I think that in spite of what modern people might say about it, I think
we had a little better chance to get started and get on the right track than the
people do today. The university had just started something brand new which
they called the general college, or perhaps they called it the university college.
They had six courses that gave you a general smattering of the whole experience
of man, and everybody had to take them. Dr. [John J.] Tigert [president,
University of Florida (1928-1947)] wanted to do that. He was president of the
university and that is what he wanted to do. I know he was very much wrapped
up in it because he and my father were quite inseparable friends and I have
overheard them discussing it. They used to play football when Tigert was at
Vanderbilt and my father was at Tennessee, and they had become real intimate
friends. We were over at the house a number of times, and I would hear talk
J: Well, where did you all live in Gainesville?
C: At that time we lived over on the Boulevard which now probably has some
number on it. It was by the duck pond.
J: How far away?
C: There was one block between the duck pond and where we lived. The Adkins
later bought that house, and at the time we rented it, I think it was owned by Dr.
Jimmy Farr, who was vice-president of the university. We rented it. We did not
own that house. Our family did not own it, we just rented it. That is where we
J: How many years did you all live there?
C: Oh, two or three years. We did not live there too long, and then we moved into
a house that was owned by T.B. Stringfellow. That was the old Stringfellow
home, which was on Main Street right up here. It is gone now. It was located
at the parking lot between the Crosslands Bank and the Sun Bank. That is
where that old house sat. We lived there for a while, and then my mother died.
We continued to live there, and then later on my father remarried. Then we lived
in a house over on Roper Street. It belonged to Mr. Dobbins. That is about it I
J: Now did you rent that one also?
C: We rented it.
J: So you started undergraduate college in about the fall of 1937?
C: Or 1938. I would hate to say which one. I just do not remember. It must have
been 1938 because I remember I had an old rat cap. They used to have rat
caps in those days, and it always had the class year on it, and it was a 1942 rat
cap. So, I would assume then that I started in 1938. So I must have graduated
from high school in 1938, because I did graduate regularly, not in the middle of
J: Did you live on campus when you started at the university?
C: No. I lived at home when I started.
J: How did you commute between there and the campus? That is a good little
C: Well, when I was in high school, I used to walk. We walked home for lunch and
walked back after we got through eating lunch. It was not so far.
J: The high school at that time was on Eighth Avenue?
C: It was on University Avenue, where Buchholz High School was located. It was
called Gainesville High School then, and it was located between Seventh and
Eighth streets on University Avenue. It was near the Alachua General Hospital.
But we walked. I would borrow the car sometimes if I got a chance. I had a
better chance to use it after my mother passed on, because we had two cars in
J: Did many other people at the university have automobiles in that time?
C: No. No, an automobile was no problem. I pulled right in front of the law school,
for instance, when I went there. I just pull right up in from of the door and got
out and walked in.
J: Were there many people with bicycles?
C: I do not know whether we had many bicycles, but we had some obviously. I do
not remember any great influx of them, no.
J: A lot of people walked then?
C: Yes, people walked. Well, they caught rides. That is what we all did. I would
stand out in the street and the next guy in a car to come along would pick me up
and take me out to school.
J: Pretty friendly atmosphere?
C: Oh, yes. Everybody would stop and pick you up. Anybody that did not do that
was just sick or something. They would either stop and pick you up or explain to
you that I am not going more than two or three blocks. "Would you like to go
that far?" "No, I will just wait for the next guy. That is all right. Good to see
you." Of course there were only about 3,000 students at the university when I
went there. The whole freshman class met in the auditorium, which is now the
concert hall in the old auditorium building. The whole class met in there.
J: For orientation or for...?
C: Yes, for orientation, and for getting started.
J: Did the auditorium at that time have a simple wooden staircase that led inside to
C: I would have to say no. It did not look like it does now. It did not have those
side entrances on it. In the back there were some wooden steps, but I do not
remember that as being a wooden front.
J: What did it have on the front?
C: It looked very much like it does now.
J: It had concrete steps leading up to it?
C: No sir. Seems like I have a recollection of some wooden steps leading up there,
but I am not real certain. It used to have an entrance on the side. You went up
the steps from the ground floor until you got to the auditorium, and then you
could go down a flight of steps, and underneath were some offices. Those were
the communication center of the university. That is where the switchboards and
the telephone system was located. I had a friend who ran the switchboard at
J: Who was that?
C: A fellow named Lamar Leggett. He is dead now.
J: What was he doing at the school?
C: He was in school like I was. He was a switchboard operator at night.
J: What was he studying?
C: English and history.
J: Did he remain in Gainesville?
C: No, he went away to war, and then he came back and stayed a few years.
J: He made this his home?
C: He got sick and had to go to the hospital. Yes, he made it his home.
J: What was the registration and application process to get in undergraduate school
in the university?
C: You mean waiting in line and all that kind of stuff?
J: Well, if you had a form to fill out to apply to come to the university. Here are my
high school grades. Did they have a SAT test or anything like that?
C: No. There was no test that I remember. If they had it, I do not remember it. I
think they just let you in if you were a high school graduate.
J: As you said you knew President Tigert pretty well. Did you ask him personally if
you could come to the university, or who did you talk to?
C: A fellow named Harley Chandler, and a fellow named Dick Johnson. I guess
Dick Johnson was the one you would mainly talk to. The registrar was Harley
Chandler, who was not any relation to me. I guess you took the application to
Dick Johnson and told him that you wanted to go.
J: Did you have a line to stand in like they have over there now?
C: Well, there was a little bit of one. I can remember sometimes when we were
getting settled for classes, I had to wait for Dr. Leigh to see me, but it was a short
wait, maybe ten minutes. Dr. Leigh was the man who was the dean of arts and
sciences. I would suppose you could not see Dean Sidman today if you wanted
to, could you?
J: It would be tough.
C: I would imagine. But with Dr. Leigh, I just went right on in. If I did not do that, I
could talk to the assistant dean, Harold Wilson, who was also a real good friend
of mine and to the family.
J: What were some of your favorite courses in undergraduate school?
C: What does undergraduate school mean to you?
J: It means working toward a B.A. degree.
C: So it means the first four years of college. That is what it means to me too. I
was just going to exclude all this junk from the discussion, but okay. I liked all
the general college courses because they were new. I had gone to Gainesville
High School and that was supposed to be a highly advanced school as far as
teaching people things. I do not know whether it was, but it was supposed to be.
But I found a lot of new information in some of those courses that I did not know
anything about. I took calculus the first year and that was a variation. They
had something they called C-4-2, which was kind of a basic math for those who
did not do much of it in high school. You could take that, or if you felt you were
advanced beyond that, you could take calculus. I took that. Then there was
C-4-1, which was a logic course. If you took the calculus you got rid of that one
too. You took the calculus for the whole year. There was C-1, which I did find
somewhat repetitive of what I had done in high school. It was man and the
institutions, civics and history kind of thing. C-2 was brand new stuff. It was
man in the physical world. It had entirely new connotations to me. I had never
thought of things of that nature. It is about the difference between studying
algebra and differential equations. It was new stuff. That was a good course.
J: Were there any undergraduate law courses? Introduction to law?
C: No. You had to graduate from college before you went to law school, or take
what they called a combination course where you went three years to college
and then three more years to law school.
J: Did you do that?
C: No. I went all the way through. I was working on a master's degree when I
went to law school.
J: So you had completed a B.A?
C: Yes, sir.
J: When did you graduate with that?
C: 1941 or 1942. Right along in there.
J: And then you went on into a master's program?
C: When I started out, I went to school in the summers and all those kinds of things.
J: Did you work during that time?
C: Yes, the English people got me into this kind of thing. Yes, I worked.
J: What kinds of jobs did you have?
C: I started out running a filling station for my father, and then as time went on, I
kept on buying them myself, and I had several of them when I got ready to get
through school. I had a chain of them.
J: I see that you were on the dean's list while you were in law school, too. Where
did you find enough time to study and to operate a business?
C: Studying was never too hard. I worked at the business ten or fifteen hours a
day. I always worked on Saturday and on Sunday. I did not mind working. I
did not mind doing that. I still work eighteen hours a day.
J: How well did you do in school?
C: Well, pretty well I guess. I am a Phi Beta Kappa, so that will give you some
J: And on the dean's list.
J: So how far in the master's program in English did you go?
C: Not too far. I took a little Browning and stuff like that. The guy that ran the
English department was a wonderful fellow and he was the one that was pushing
me to do it.
J: Who was that?
C: C.P. Lyons. He was a hell of a good teacher, and a real man. That kind of
thing. Everybody liked him; I liked him. There were some other ones. Archie
Robertson, who was an institution out there. He was a good teacher, too. Both
of them wanted me to do it and there were several others that thought I ought to
do it, so I set out to do it. But my mind was not firm at that time. And so, I
decided to change over to law school.
J: So would you say you were in the master's program, just as a point of reference,
for one year?
C: I guess a semester or so in it. I taught some, too. I taught freshman English
courses in writing and that kind of thing. They always had the C-3 thing.
English One was divided into several parts, and I taught the writing part.
J: You were teaching, running several stations, and taking courses?
C: That is right. We worked back in those days.
J: When did you sleep?
C: Everytime I got a chance. I slept at night, but it was hard work. I got
accustomed to that. People today are just not accustomed to that. They do not
know what that kind of work was. We were glad to do it.
J: Where did you eat?
C: I ate breakfast usually in the morning before I went to school. I ate lunch on the
run. They always brought me something to eat at the filling station. My wife or
somebody would bring it in. The big treat was when I was working at the station
on Main Street, we could occasionally get a little time off and run up to Alford's
Cafeteria. That was a big treat for us.
J: Where was that cafeteria?
C: On the southeast corner of north Main Street and what is now Northeast First
Street. Someone's sandwich shop is located there now.
J: I guess you had an automobile in those days?
C: Yes, I had a car. I had a bicycle, too. I used to ride back and forth to work on
J: You were doing pretty well.
C: Why, having a bicycle?
J: And having a car, too.
C: Well, I used the car in the business. It was really a business vehicle. I
remember after my wife and I had been married for six years, we took a
honeymoon. It was the first time we had been out of Gainesville. We went to
Tampa, and stayed at a hotel in Tampa. I had been married for six years. I
took her out to dinner that night. We came home the next day, and that was a
J: I bet it was.
C: Nowadays you, I get a call and get in an airplane and go to Washington on a
moments notice. Things have entirely changed. But yes, I had a car. It was a
1936 Ford. It was not a new car as you can obviously see; it had been my
mother's car; it had been willed to me more or less, because you could not trade
it. A car like that which incidentally cost less than $1,000, in those days was
new. So, you can get an idea of what they were worth.
J: What prompted you to switch from English?
C: Adventure, I guess. I do not know. I just wanted to try something else. I was
not mad at the people in the English department.
J: Were you bored with it?
C: No. As I say, it was something that had been in the back of my mind all the
time, and people kept asking me when I was going to get through school and this
kind of thing. Then I had these filling stations, and the legal profession would
help there. We had meetings there. Judge Long, who was a resident United
States judge at that time, used to come there with his chauffeur, and he would
send the chauffeur on and come in and sit down.
J: In the filling station?
C: In the filling station. He would spend a half and hour or an hour just talking to
me and telling stories and all.
J: Would you tell me where those filling stations were located?
C: One was located on Main Street, across from what is now the First National
Bank, and which was at that time the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot. The
train came up the middle of the street. The filling station was a popular place,
and now there is a flower shop where it was located. That was the filling station,
and the train stopped there. That was its stop. If the train were coming from
the south, it may have to try the hill two or three times. It would start up the hill,
and then could not quite make it, and it would have to back up and start again.
They put sand on the tracks to get it up the hill. Once it got up to the top of the
hill, it stopped. That was "the" place to stop. Of course, all up and down the
road the roads were blocked, but on that train was the mail car, and the mail car
always stopped right in front of the station. About the time the train was to arrive
all the people would drive down there to put their mail in the box on the train. So
we had a big delegation of people who just hung around there. If the train was
fifteen minutes late, they would be there for fifteen minutes or twenty minutes.
Now, the judge was not that way. The judge just came and stayed
anyway. But for years the train came right to the middle of town. They finally
got rid of it. Back before my time, it used to come and stop and spend an hour
and a half there while the people went down to the White House Hotel to eat
dinner or eat lunch. They cut that out before I got there though. By then, the
dining car was on the train. But that train stopped there two or three times a
day. One going north and one south, and always during the middle of the day.
For years, people used that as the mail place rather than the post office, which is
where the Hippodrome Theater is now located.
That is where I got to know all those people, and of course, the lawyers
would hang around there. Colonel Baxter was a very prominent local lawyer and
wanted me to go up with his firm, and was trying to get me to go to law school.
Mr. Layton, who traded there, was with Layton and Gray. That is the
predecessor of this firm. They tried to get me to go with them. Seldon Waldo
was a fraternity brother of mine, and he was always urging me to do it. Those
things had a lot to do with it. People were asking me, "When are you going to
go to law school; when are you going to do this and that and the other?" I did
J: Did that train bring in supplies and gas and oil to your station?
C: No. My father was still the oil man and he had the bulk plant which was on what
then was known as Michigan Avenue. The railroad track came right beside it
and they would unload it from the train. Later, petroleum carriers came in with
an 8,000 gallon truck. That is where they got their supplies. I ordered it from
him. They just delivered it to me in 600 or 800 gallon trucks that were driven by
local fellows. They would dump it in when I needed it. There were different
arrangements. The oil business is entirely different. You call them up and tell
them to bring you some, and they bring it to you. They would dump it in the tank
in the ground. It is entirely different now. Now there are motors and they pump
it and do all kinds of things.
J: Did you have another station?
C: Yes, on University Avenue at what was then Eighth Street, which is now Twelfth
Street, and now I think University Travel Company is located there. There was a
big filling station there, and I had that one.
J: Was that station more profitable than the one on Main?
C: Yes. More volume. I do not know about profitable. That is a bad thing to say.
I do not remember that. But more volume.
J: Was the application process then to law school any different than what you had
experienced for undergraduate work?
C: No. It was all very informal. They prided themselves on being tough. It was
supposed to be a hard school to get into and to get through, and they did have
academic standards which they did not have in some of the other schools. You
used the word process, and that is not the process, but it bears on it. The
process was that you would just go over there and see them made your
application. I do not know that there was any rule that you would go over there
six months ahead of time. But you did have an academic requirement of having
good grades. To what extent, I do not know. You had to have completed your
work for a bachelor's degree or completed three years of college in a
combination program. I do not think the combination program was available to
you unless you had been planning on it all along. They had some input into
what you took in the undergraduate school if you were going to have the
combination program. But I think you could go the other way and just get a
degree and then they would not have any input into what you did. But that is
about as much as I can remember about it. I do not remember aptitude tests or
anything of that nature. I am sure they did not have one. If they did, I took it
but just do not remember it.
J: What was the date of your first semester in law school?
C: Well, I do not know. 1942 or 1943, but I do not remember.
J: I would not think that there were many people on campus during that time
because World War II was being fought.
C: Well, you were either on campus or in some darn army camp. That is what we
were all doing. There were not too many people on campus. There were a
tremendous amount of vacancies, and the university was exercising its
prerogative to make you live in the dormitories, and the landlords were fussing.
There were not too many people.
J: You, of course, did not live in a dormitory in law school, did you still live at home?
C: No, I lived with my wife then. I was married.
J: When did you marry?
J: Just prior to going to law school then?
J: What is your wife's name?
J: How did you meet her?
C: I am not real sure. Somebody introduced me to her. I do not remember who
that was. I do not know whether it was a blind date or not. I kind of think not.
But I know I did meet her and I did have a date with her sometime around
Christmas, and then about eight or ten months later I married her.
J: Was she from a local family?
C: Yes. She had worked in Tallahassee, but at that time she lived in Gainesville.
J: Now was there any financial aid or student assistantships available to you
through the law college?
C: I did not know of any. Through the law college, no, not that I remember but I am
sure that you could have gotten some kind of work somewhere. It may not have
been in law related activities, but you could have gotten a job. You could work in
the library and those kind of things. Being a fellow that had been in school and
already had a degree, it was pretty easy to get work. At least, it was then. I do
not know about today. There are more people today with degrees.
J: What did they think at the law college about you having a full-time job and
knowing how much time you had to devote to it?
C: They were pretty good to me. Most of the professors started trading with me.
The would come in and sit down to carry on a conversation. They were good
customers. Professor Slagle had his old big Cadillac and he was something
J: How much did it cost you to register?
C: I do not know. It was practically nothing. You paid your fee and it entitled you
to everything imaginable including attendance to all the athletic events, football
and all. It just was part of what you paid for. I think it was about $40. It was a
very reasonable and nominal fee.
J: What were the favorite courses that you had while you were in law school?
Anything that stood out in your mind that started you thinking about practicing
this type of law?
C: Well, no. I cannot say that. The subject matter of the courses was such that it
tempted me. That is what you are asking me. The professors made a
difference. I liked some of the professors better than others and I took their
courses and liked them. I think it was because of their presence as much as the
material. The material is not the kind of thing that makes you jump up and down
and scream. Most everybody who goes to law school tells you it is boring as the
devil all that stuff you have to do. It is hard work, and you study. You started
cramming for exams the first of December, and the exams were held at the end
of January. Every chance I would get I would study for them. That is what
everybody expected you to do.
J: You only had the one exam for the course?
C: Well, they graded you in other things, too. They would give you quizzes, and
grade you off if you did not recite well. There was always the recitation problem.
In other words, you had to be prepared every day because you did not know if
you were going to be called on. If you were called on and you were not
prepared, then like grammar school, the professor would put a demerit down
J: Well, who was one of your favorite professors?
C: Well, everybody will tell you about Mr. TeSelle [Clarence John TeSelle,
professor, 1920-1959], I guess. He was an institution, and a wonderful teacher.
He was always tough. Oh, my, he would eat you alive if he could, trying to make
a lawyer out of you. He and I got along pretty well and after I got out of school,
he started coming to the firm, and he sent his son to study law with me. So I
always thought the old man liked me before he got through with it.
J: What was he like in class?
C: Rough. He would try to belittle you and mock you and make you feel like a
dummy. Of course, all he was doing was teaching you. You cannot fault him.
You would fault him if you were constantly in the position of never knowing what
to say and were not able to reply, or got stage fright, or failed the course. Then
you would not like Mr. TeSelle. But if those things did not happen to you, you
would catch on that what that man doing was really equipping you to do what you
had to do as a lawyer. He was trying to teach you.
Trusler [Harry Raymond Trusler, professor, 1909-1947; dean, 1915-1947]
was the dean; he was a good teacher. He would teach you how to look for a lot
of things in situations. The old man would close his eyes when he talked. He
never talked with his eyes open. There were occasions when fellows would wait
until he closed his eyes, and then leave the class after he called the role. But I
always though he was a good teacher.
J: How would he make you look for things?
C: Well, he was the kind of person who would give you a test, and on the test he
would ask you, what and why, and that is the way you knew he had given you
plenty of latitude in the way you could answer the question. The student that
was not very perceptive could quite easily get the answer that the fellow was
guilty or the fellow was not guilty, but where that student missed the boat was on
the what and why of his guilt. He always listed about five reasons in the facts
with different degrees of difficulty, and you would have to pick out why was he
guilty, though there might be a lot of other reasons that could point to a fellow's
guilt. He did not teach criminal law so that is not a good example. He taught
constitutional law, and he would give you why a thing was constitutional. There
might be five different sections of that constitution that would say that this is the
right way to do it. If you picked out one of them, you only got a fifth, twenty per
cent of the question. To me, that was a good teaching way of doing it.
J: Here is a couple of the old tests. Any of those look familiar to you?
C: No. The old man did not repeat his questions. It was Slagle who did that.
J: Slagle pretty much used the same questions year after year?
C: Well, he would not go that far. I would say he would be more apt to use them
again one or two years later. Then maybe after a while he would cut it out and
get new ones, but there was always a chance of repetition. That made
everybody want to get a hold of his exams. I do not think that Trusler ever did
J: Was Judge Cockrell [Robert Spratt Cockrell, professor, 1919-1941] there when
you were in school?
C: Just for a little bit.
J: He retired in 1941 I believe.
C: I knew Judge Cockrell and I had some dealings with him, though I never did take
any courses under him.
J: What kind of dealings did you have with him?
C: I do not remember really. Listening to him tell stories I think. He was real good
J: Now was it Crandall [Clifford W. Crandall, professor, 1914-1949] that had the
C: That was Slagle [Dean Slagle, professor, 1923-1958]. Sloogy had the Cadillac.
We called Slagle Sloogy.
J: Was it a new one?
C: No. He bought it second hand. It was about two years old. I remember when
he bought it. I looked after it for him when he brought it to the filling station. I
always liked him. He was pretty tough. I remember one time I was in a building
with quite a few prominent lawyers and every damn one of them flunked his
course. I thought it was easy. He always liked me, I guess, because I worked
on his car, and I would win awards from book companies on his suggestion.
J: Where did the nickname Sloogy come from?
C: I do not know. Slagle. Sloogy. I had an experience with him that was kind of
unusual. He used to come to the service station. His name was Dean Slagle,
and so for years I called him Dean. He was Dean this, and Dean that and the
other. So I went to law school, and the first time he called on me I said, "Yes sir,
Dean." That was his given name. He was not a dean. I was calling him by his
first name. Everybody got a big kick out of it. But I did not understand it for a
while. That just happened to be his first name, like Bill or John. Dean Slagle.
J: He never had a problem with that though?
C: No, he never said anything to me about it. I thought he was real good about it.
Anyway, after that I called him Mr. Slagle. But the students all called him
J: Did TeSelle or Trusler have nicknames?
C: Not that I know of. It was Mr. TeSelle and Dean Trusler.
J: How about Jimmy Day [James Westbay Day, professor, 1930-1961]?
C: He was another good teacher. He was the meticulous guy. My goodness. For
every case he had four or five different answers. He always wanted to know
what the weight of authority was, what the minority opinion was, and what the
best view was. He categorized everything. So you always had to do a lot of
research to keep up. He was a very good teacher. He was in property law
mainly. He taught Real Property and those kinds of things.
J: Somebody in one of these interviews called him "Footnote" Day.
C: I have never heard that.
J: He was real particular about his footnotes obviously.
C: Well, he was, but I never heard him called "Footnote" Day. I remember Jimmy
Day was what they all called him, but of course they called him Mr. Day to his
J: There was a fellow who was on leave for a while during the 1940s named William
McRae [William Allen McRae, professor, 1942-1945].
C: Yes, that was Bill McRae. I never had him, though I know him. He was a
lawyer and a judge, and he may have been a smart guy. Was he a Rhodes
J: I think so.
C: He was a very nice man. But I never had him in class.
J: How long was he with the university? How long did you know him?
C: Well, in connection with the university, I do not know. But I knew him. He was
a good man.
J: Was he a long-time Gainesville resident?
C: No. He came from somewhere else, Lakeland I believe, or somewhere in that
part of the state.
J: Now Ila Pridgen [lla Roundtree Pridgen librarian, 1930-1954] was the librarian in
this time. She was also teaching some courses as I recall.
C: She did. I think she was still taking, well no, I guess not; I better back up on
that. I can remember her going to school, because I knew her before I went to
law school. She was the librarian and she did begin to teach a course or two.
A lot of them were legal bibliography sort of things where she would teach you
how to look up law and this kind of thing. I can remember one time she taught a
course with substance matter. She was a very dedicated soul and a regular
institution at the law school.
J: How many students would you have in a class with these professors?
C: Well, we had probably ten or twelve in a class, but we did not have the variety of
offerings they had when there were more students there. I took senior courses
along with the seniors and we were all mixed up. There just were not too many
J: You took what you could get and what was offered?
C: They always offered Torts and they always offered Criminal Law. They always
offered Property One, and Constitutional law. They have got different
connotations for these subjects today.
J: I would like to raise the question again, just to get a better feel for what you are
about and what you were doing in law school, of what appealed to you in those
classes. Was it all kind of boring or was there a kind of law that you did like?
C: Well, I liked law school, and I liked to do law cases and so forth. We used the
case method primarily, where we read cases and then we recited on the cases.
They would give us pretty heavy assignments in those days of maybe fifty or
sixty pages each day, and a kind of complex reading. You had to read it
thoroughly. You had to be ready to recite, so it was work.
Some of the cases, of course, were interesting, and some of the cases
were not interesting at all. It is like everything else. I enjoyed it, or else I would
not have continued to do it. Though there were things which I did not know to
begin with, they did not have that innate quality of stimulation that learning
something entirely new will give you. I did not have my inquisitive nature
triggered in law school.
You are going through the road of learning cases, and it is not going to get
that exciting. A few cases, of course, were interesting because it was different
from what you expected. Most of the professors pretty well worked out a
routine; I do not think I got excited to that extent. I liked being there and I liked
what went with law school, but the subject matter did not do that for me. I would
have gotten a whole lot more bang out of reading about something that I did not
know existed. For instance, when I went to school they never heard of anything
called DNA or RNA. We studied Mendel. We looked at prosophila flies. We
studied corn plants and genetics. We had never even heard of DNA. Well,
when I first read that, it was interesting to me. I picked up magazines and
publications and started reading about that kind of stuff. We did not have that
when we went to school. So, the law does not have that big a change and new
things to stimulate you. Inquisitive natures are not triggered as well.
J: That is interesting. There was a fellow there by the name of Odle, who was
teaching a legislation course.
C: I do not remember him. Must not have been too exciting if he did.
J: Talking about these various professors, did any of them have a favorite saying
that they would repeat in class from time to time? I think it was Dean Hughes
[1912-1915], the first dean of the law college, who used to say, "law is a jealous
C: Oh, I think I remember a few of the things that they said. But there was not a
saying, though there was some advice they would give you. I do not remember
any sayings though, and I have been sitting here thinking.
J: Well, they might come back to you as we talk more about it.
C: I am just trying to go over the faculty. I do not remember any sayings. I am not
saying I do not remember what they were, I just do not remember that there were
J: Were professors still being shuffled by the students? Were women being
C: Oh, yes.
J: Were you shuffling?
C: Did I shuffle? Yes, I shuffled. Sure. Well, you shuffled the professors. Do
they still do that? I guess they do.
J: No, that has died out pretty much. You shuffled the professor when what
C: Well, he would come up with something that you did not think much of, and you
would shuffle him. We would shuffle him sometimes when he came to class.
We shuffled Mr. Day one time because he came to class during the worst
hurricane that I can remember in this town. This was the middle of it, and
somebody said, "I bet money that Day will show up at the school." "Naw, he is
not going to show up today." "Well let's go see." So we went out in the middle
of that hurricane and walked over to the school. We could not get in, so we had
to get in the window. We sat there, just the few of us who came. And here
comes Day. Well, we shuffled him real good for that. To make it worse, he
taught the class. We thought he would just come to say that we cannot do
anything today. We got right down to the review right away. At the law library,
it rained, and the hurricane was so bad that it soaked the walls, and they had to
do something about it because the books were getting wet. So we all were glad
we were there because we had to remove all the books and everything because
of the hurricane.
J: What year was this?
C: I do not know. Somewhere between 1942 and 1944. It might have been 1943.
J: Would you have a visiting professor or instructor come in, who might be a local
C: No, I never saw one.
J: How about heat and air conditioning, and screens on the windows and those
C: They did not have any screens I am sure. We did have heat. On a cold day
there was some heat in there. There was not anything like air conditioning. We
did not even have that in the offices. We had lights. It was not all that bad.
There was plumbing inside.
J: Was there plumbing for both men and women?
J: Judging by these pictures inside the law school there were good facilities.
C: There were facilities for men and women, but most of the women's facilities were
there probably not because of the students, but because of the women help.
That would be my guess.
J: Well, there were a goodly number of women graduating in your class,
J: In your estimation were they treated any differently, given deferential treatment
J: Pretty much across the board?
C: Miss Jones came after me, and Delphine Coverton came after me. I never knew
Sherry Wolfe, so I do not know where she came from.
J: And they are all pictured in your graduating class.
C: Yes. Marion Merrill. I just slightly knew who she was. Patricia Whitmore, I
remember who she was. I remember Doris Hartman, but I do not remember
J: Do you remember who any of these women married, and what they went off to
do, and if they became lawyers?
C: Well, Louie Shott married some girl. I cannot think of her name. I think it was
J: How about the fellows? Any recollection of what they are doing today?
C: Well, Red Cross [J. Emory Cross, class of 1945] was a judge here for years. I
think he has moved now. Somebody told me yesterday that the judge had
moved down south somewhere. I did not realize he had, but...
J: We tried to contact him a couple of times and his phone is disconnected. I
cannot get in touch with him.
C: Well, somebody said he had moved down south somewhere and I do not know
exactly where. But I knew Red Cross, of course. I saw Miss Coverton several
times after she left here, and she was a very nice lady. She married a man
named Strickland, I think. He became vice-president of one of our Florida
colleges. I cannot remember which. Ralph Dell was practicing in Tampa. I
think he has got a good, big practice. I do not know what happened to Barbara
Durrance. She was married to a highway patrolman.
J: Was she married in law school?
C: Yes. She came here married. I do not remember Don Eliot. I do not know
what happened to him. Harry Edwards. I do not know Harry Edwards. Ralph
Fetner is working for the Public Service Commission in Tallahassee. Halley
Lewis lives over at Trenton, I believe. Louis Safer is a judge in Jacksonville. I
do not now what happened to Fred White. Harris Ball went to Jacksonville. I
do not know what happened to him. Bob Curtis went to Fort Lauderdale. He
has got a big firm down there. I remember Ernest Hewett. He was the director
kind of the trustee of the improvement fund in Tallahassee. I do not remember
what happened to Jack Murray, but I remember him well. Holmes Melton was
assistant director of alumni affairs, or maybe director of alumni affairs for a while.
I wonder where Holmes is now. I think Carlyle Housholder is in Sanford. I
think he married this girl, Doris Hartman.
J: The law library was added to the college law building in 1941, I believe. Is that
the extension that is to the north of the old building?
C: That is right. That is the one that had the water come in it.
J: So that was brand new when the water was coming in it?
C: Well, it would not be brand new if it was in 1944. That would be three years old,
but that is kind of new.
J: Was that new space devoted primarily to library?
C: There was not anything in there but library.
J: No classes or offices in there?
C: No. It was all library. There were study nooks by the windows. The books
were down the middle and on one side of the windows. There was always table
space on each one of the floors, and so when we studied we would go to those
tables. I can remember the table I went to, and usually, nobody else would go to
J: Everybody pretty much had their own little space?
C: Just about. That is right.
J: Now the building was dedicated Bryan Hall during that same time period.
Instead of being called the college of law or the law school building. Do you
remember a ceremony taking place in 1941?
C: No. I do not. I should have, but I do not.
J: It might have been a little ceremony in front or out back.
C: I do not remember it. If there was, I did not go to it.
J: Where were most of your classes held in the building?
C: On the first floor. There were two classrooms on the first floor, and that is where
practically all the classes were held.
J: What happened upstairs?
C: There were offices primarily. There were some classrooms, but they were not
used. I guess maybe because we did not have as much variety in our courses.
The first floor was where we met most every time. And that was so I could climb
in the window [laughter], and that was a little bit of a chore even then. I
remember we had to jump up to do it, but we did it [laughter].
J: Was there a ROTC unit stationed upstairs?
C: No. Not that I remember. That was over at the horse barn.
J: Were there a lot of military people on campus at that time?
C: Well, the ROTC people. Yes, there were a lot of military people around. I
guess some military students were sent there to study.
J: How about in the law school?
C: I do not remember it if there were. There was a boy named Bruce Crawford. I
do not know where he is.
J: Did any of these professors have social gathering at their homes or at a local pub
downtown to get the class together at the end of the semester or to reminisce?
C: Dean Trusler liked to go drink beer I think. They had what they called barrister's
brawls; we always had those kinds of things. The faculty would show up. The
more dignified ones would go home early, and then the other ones would stay for
J: Where were the barrister's brawls?
C: Well, a lot of them were held across the street, where Goerings' Book Store is
located. It used to be L-shaped in the store, and we would go to the back room
and have the brawls in there. We had several of them there and we also had
them in other places. I think we had one in the old country club, which is the
University Country Club. It is not the building that is there now; it was in one that
was wooden. We had brawls a couple of times a year.
J: Was it fun being in law school?
C: Well, of course, it was fun being in pre-law school, but there was not much work.
School is not hard. School is an easy thing. Teaching is an easy job. That is
the easiest one I ever had. Twelve hours a week, and they talk about being
overworked? Suppose you were a math teacher. How much change are you
going to get in algebra or geometry.
J: If it is, you will not do it. It will come from somebody else who is a lot smarter.
C: Yes, nobody is going to do it even then. Euclid is mighty old, and was
established a long time ago. It is an easy job. School is easy. Though school
is hard for some people, and easy for others, I never had any trouble with school.
J: So when you got out, the going got tough?
C: Well no. I always enjoyed doing that, too, so I cannot say any of it is tough.
There is more work connected with satisfying people and making all these
decisions about what you are going to do with this case and that case than there
is reading the better view in some case in Montana. A lot of times the
application of facts never existed but once in the history of mankind. School was
J: Did anybody drop out of law school?
C: Some flunked out. They had rigid standards. I do not remember the people
who flunked. Well, no, I can remember something about one guy, though I
never did really know him. It was just a story they told about him. It still was
tough. They have always had it that way. The law school was tougher in those
days than it is now, in some respects. It was tougher in the sense that it was a
means of policing the number of people who went into the legal profession
because you did not have to take any bar exam then. You were automatically
admitted to the bar if you graduated from law school. So they assuaged the
legal profession's problems. They made it tougher to get into the practice of law
by flunking them in school. If they had not done it, of course, they would have
immediately got the bar exam behind them. The occasion itself would have
reduced the number of people who came in. Now that is my opinion. I never
even had anything to do with that part of it, so I do not know, but I think that is
J: What was that story of the person who flunked you were going to talk about?
C: Well, he was a fellow who went to law school. We all know him, but I am not
going to tell you who he was. He went into Mr. TeSelle's class, and Mr. TeSelle
started out on that rough sort of thing, but he did not call on him, and everything
was fine. Anyway, after he had been there a couple of days, listening to TeSelle
jumping on everybody else, he went to Dean Trusler. Trusler told me this. He
went to Dean Trusler and told him this was the finest teacher he had ever heard.
He said he was a most marvelous teacher; he stimulated everybody and it was
just a revelation to him that any man could be that smart. Trusler listened to him
and said that is a pretty good thing. He is a good teacher and we like him. This
guy went on and on, and raved and raved.
Well, he went on through the rest of the semester and the old man,
TeSelle, finally got to him, and started working on him. So when they had the
final exam, he made an E. Busted it completely. So he got mad as the devil,
and went to see Dean Trusler and said, "Dean, I want to tell you one thing. This
is absolutely the worst teacher I ever came in contact with." He said just the
opposite of what he had said before. Trusler did not say too much about it, but
later on TeSelle told this fellow that, as he had a way of doing, I do not want to
butt into your business but if there has ever been anything you need not be in, it
is the legal profession. You had better get out where you can be successful
because you have not got a chance in this one. That is the way he talked. So
he went back and complained to the dean again about it. The dean was telling
us that everything is just a viewpoint: this guy started out and thought TeSelle
was so wonderful, and then changed his mind completely. Well, the guy busted
on out of school. He went to a neighboring state and passed the bar; well, at
least went to school and got a bar diploma or maybe a license to practice, and
they did finally accept him in the state of Florida. He moved back to Gainesville
and practiced here for years until he died. But I do not want to defame the
memory of a pretty good fellow with that story. I am sure it is true because
Trusler told it to me.
J: Well, Trusler was not exactly subtle in his approach to people.
C: Subtle! Hit you with a sledge hammer, but I liked him. You either liked him or
you did not. There was a line down the middle. Not too many people thought
he was all right. Most people said he was great, or they did not like him, or they
had something bad to say about him. I cannot say anything bad about a guy
that is as good a teacher as he was, and as stimulating as he was. He was
crippled, and could not get around very well. That had affected his practice of
law; he was one of the few who actually did practice law. He could not carry it on
because of his crippled condition and he came to Gainesville to have something
to do, and he took on this job and he really became a wonderful teacher.
J: He walked with a cane?
C: He did walk with a cane. I do not really know what was wrong with him. Do you
know? Did anybody ever tell you?
J: I do not know.
C: He walked with a cane and he smoked a cigar. He would walk in the class and
sit down in a chair. He would invariably take that cane and just kind of zoom it
over like this and bang it on the desk and let it sit right there beside him. When
that cane hit the desk, I always smiled. Some others smiled. Some other
people got itchy and scared. It was how you took it. He would take that big
cigar and he would punch it right in the side of his mouth. That cigar always
went in just like this, and stuck out just like that. It was not lit. It was there,
though. And he would chew on that cigar when he was chewing on you. He
was an institution, I tell you. He was about as good a teacher as I ever had in
anything. Furthermore, I was one of the main pickees. He would pick on me
and I would pick back at him. He seemed to enjoy it. He never did get mad
when I picked back at him. Those people who sat there and shook, he would
just berate them and belittle them, and if they did not watch out, they would get
this little admonition that they ought to take up something else. That was the old
J: Did you all have any discussions in class about World War II, and about what
was going on overseas?
C: Yes, though we did not have any headline sessions. We talked about it, sure, in
school. Not so much in class, I guess, but around the school you would hear
about it and talk about it.
J: Why weren't you in the war?
C: Well, I never did get any farther than Camp Blanding. It was something with my
heart, but I do not know what it was. They kept me out there three or four weeks
one time, just checking me. I was a veteran of Camp Blanding. I spent time in
the war at Camp Blanding. But, I never did know what was wrong with me.
After a while, they said we are not going to take you. It was because of a
cardiac condition of some sort. I do not know what it is, but my blood pressure
had always been high. My blood pressure is high all the time. It always has
been and maybe that was it. But, the tests they put me through, Lord have
mercy, they really put you through these tests.
J: When were you out there being tested? Before law school?
C: I went out there several times. First, I volunteered for the navy and was
accepted. I went to Washington and I never did get to go any farther than
Washington. They sent me back home. That was the navy. Then, I told the
draft board they would not take me and I asked them to please take me because
I wanted to go. So they kept sending me back out hoping I would pass. A lot of
people did not want to go. A lot of people do not like that kind of thing, but I
wanted to go. All my friends were there and I wanted to be in on it. But, they
never would take me. That last time I guess the draft board probably told them
that I wanted to go, and to see if you can find some way, but they would not let
me go, though they tried. I stayed out there for that period of time, and they tried
to find some way that I could do it. Of course, I wanted to go fight, like a
dummy. I guess it seems dumb now, but in those days you wanted to do it.
J: It was patriotic in those days.
C: Oh, patriotism was the thing in those days. Yes sir. I tried every damn way. I
volunteered for every damn thing there was. But I did not serve, though I guess
I accumulated several months of time in these tents and all.
J: It must have been a frustrating experience for you.
C: Well, yes. It was frustrating. I did it one more time after the war was over,
which was another damn dumb thing to do, I guess. Everybody thought that
would be stupid. I wanted to take another shot at it, but it did not work.
J: Did you have any breaks during the summer from law school?
C: Not very much.
J: I would think that because of the decreased size in enrollment, there would not
be enough people during the summer to have a session.
C: They had one session. Now they have two, I think. They had one session and
it lasted until about the first of August. You had that time off. There was a time
in there when everybody was out. It was probably a month. But now they do
not do that, I do not think, as much. I think they probably go around the clock,
except for maybe a week off.
J: That is about right. Where did you buy your books for law school?
C: At the university. The student union had a book store. I also bought them from
Irving Kallman. He was still over there at Florida Bookstore. He was not very big
then, but I would try to buy something from him if I could.
J: Was there a good supply of used law textbooks?
C: Yes, Irving sold those.
J: Was there any competition for the bookstores in Gainesville?
C: Those were the two bookstores in town. There were no other bookstores.
J: Was the training theoretical or practical?
C: Theoretical. They do not know what practical training is in the law school and
never have. You do not know a damn thing of practical practice when you come
out of law school.
J: Why not?
C: Well, I did know how to look things up in the books. I did know some of the
principles that had to do with substantive law, but not too much procedural law.
Mr. TeSelle was trying to emphasize that. But when you walked out of the
classroom, there were little practical things you did not know. For instance, the
first thing they handed me was a mortgage to foreclosure. I got the papers up
and did everything fine, but I did not join the wife in the mortgage. The property
was owned by a man and I did not join the wife. Nobody told me that she had a
dower right that I had to cover by having her as a defendant in a lawsuit. That is
the kind of thing that I say is not so practical.
J: How did you correct that?
C: Well, when I went over to the court to get the final decree, the judge said, "Where
is your summons on Mrs. Jones?" I told him, "Well, I did not see where she
owned the property; it was owned by Mr. Jones." "Yes, but she has got a dower
right." Back in those days, a wife had a right to take one-third interest and she
must convey it out, or have it barred by something like a decree. She could take
it after you are dead from the people who got it at a mortgage foreclosure sale.
So the judge told me that I had made a mistake, and that I ought to do it over.
So I went back and did it over. That is the worst mistake I really made, or about
the worst one I ever made. It was the first thing I did when I got out. Nobody
thought to tell me. They gave me a mortgage foreclosure and my partner was
headed to a speaking engagement. So I was going to be a big shot. I was
going to get that thing done and have it all ready. I had it all ready except for
one little thing. I forgot to do that.
J: It made all the difference in the world.
C: Well, yes. The judges in those days would not let you do something wrong.
J: Is that different from today?
C: Sometimes today they do not look at it as carefully as they did. When we went
over there we had a session about it. I cannot say that. The judges here are
high caliber people. That is an actual fact. But, in those days, they were a little
bit interested in the new guy getting started and that kind of thing. There are so
many of them now that it is hard to have that same feeling. But there were
fewer people around then.
J: Did your professors at the law college ever prompt you to go down and watch the
proceedings at the courthouse?
C: No sir, and I never did either.
J: Would that have been helpful?
C: Yes. They did not have any teaching of trials or anything out there. It was after
I left that Mr. Enwall [Hayford Enwall, class of 1929, professor (1956-1982)] came
along. Professor Enwall started doing that, but that was long after I had
J: What did he do?
C: He taught trial practice. They had trials with various facts and witnesses. They
did it all.
J: I am under the impression that there was a moot court session.
C: That came when Mr. Enwall arrived, but we did not have it.
J: You did not have moot court?
C: No. That came along later.
J: They had moot court prior to that time.
C: If they did we never had it. Well, I am sure they had it. We used to debate.
Debates were the big thing. That was kind of a legal thing, a sideline that law
J: You were on the debating team?
C: Yes, I debated. I debated several people. I remember one time we debated
some Englishmen from Oxford or Cambridge. It was interesting.
J: Did you all travel as a team?
C: We traveled a little bit, though we never went very far. There was not any
money to do that.
J: Where would you go?
C: Oh, to another school like Georgia, or somewhere like that. We never went to
England, I can tell you that.
J: Was there much competition to be on the debating team at the university?
C: Well, there was some, but there were certain things you did and certain things
you did not do. People like to get into these extracurricular activities. You had
to do so much activity stuff to get to be a member of Blue Key, and they all ran to
do those things that they would not normally do.
J: Well, you were in a number of extracurricular activities and honor societies and
fraternities, according to this yearbook. What is Phi Beta Kappa?
C: A scholarship fraternity, I guess you would call it. It is an old one.
J: There is Phi Gamma Mu.
C: I was never in any Phi Gamma Mu that I remember. I do not even know what it
is. What is it?
J: I do not know. That is why I am asking you. There was the John Marshall
C: Yes, we had that.
J: As well as the university debating team?
C: Right. That is right.
J: Would you travel with the John Marshall Debating Society?
C: The John Marshall Debating Society would debate things casually here and
there, but it did not participate in formal debates. That was the university
debating in the department of speech. But we did have the John Marshall
Debating Society. The John Marshall Debating Society was really kind of a
social organization as much as anything else. You would get together and
debate, but it would be like having discussion.
J: How about the Florida Players?
C: Yes, I did that. I did that because my fraternity wanted me to. It is a funny
thing. They wanted me to go out and do that. Our fraternity was SAE, and the
fraternity was always trying to get the young people to go out and do some
extracurricular activities. I played baseball and that kind of thing, but I
remember those plays. I got involved in those plays. I was not particularly
anxious to do that. But I did. After becoming involved in several of those plays
they made me a member of what they called the Florida Players. Occasionally, I
would do a little something for them, but it was only because the fraternity
wanted to be widespread and probably get a cup to put on the mantle to show
how diversified its members were. It never did mean that much to me.
Selden Waldo, my partner, was wild about them. He put my name in for
Blue Key, and when they debated whether I was going to become a member of
Blue Key, this is the way I understood it, the question came up about whether I
had enough activities to qualify. You had to have participated in so many things
and excelled in different kinds of activities. It is kind of like a chart. You have
got to fill in all these blanks. There was one blank that they did not have filled
out for me, and they needed to fill that blank. But, they could not do anything
about it, until supposedly somebody spoke up and said, "Well, he was in Florida
Players. I saw him play in these plays." This was the man who ran the speech
department. He was on the selection committee. And they said, "Really? Did
you see it?" "Yes." But I had not even filled out the application. So that is the
way I got into Blue Key, with the Florida Players. It was just something I did
because they insisted I do it to diversify my activities. I do not know whether
they do that now in school or not. But fraternities were very anxious to have
their members participate in these things.
J: What were your duties as president of the law class?
C: Not much. I guess the duties were to keep the class in tow, and that kind of
thing. I remember a couple of times some student would need somebody to
speak for him to the faculty, and I would go do that. But there was not really too
much to it.
J: What did you do for entertainment?
C: Well, in spite of the fact that I did all that work, there were times in the little
moments that we could gather a bunch of us in law school together to have a
party and these kinds of things. We did that quite frequently. It does not seem
possible, but we did do that. We went to lakes and had parties and invited the
cows to come back in. That is when they were all over the road. I remember
that. There was good comradship at the law school, when we had the time.
Most everybody worked and did something, bet we still had time to do it.
Generally most of the time was taken up with studying. Those boys who did not
work, and there were always some who did not work, got by without studying and
probably did not do much of anything. There was always some like that, but
most of us, like Ralph Fetner and Ralph Dell, worked. But we still would get
together occasionally and have a good time.
J: Do you recall what kind of jobs they had?
C: Dell was in the library. He worked in the library all the time. The main library.
And if you started out as a young student working in the library, by the time you
were a senior in law school, you were kind of a big shot in the library yourself.
So he was doing that. I cannot remember what Fetner did, but he worked too.
His father was a very prominent architect in Jacksonville. So maybe he did not
have to work, but he did.
J: I would think the SAE fraternity enrollment was way down during those years.
C: Well during my law school years, it was, but not before then. See, nobody
thought about going off to war until around 1942 when the Japanese bombed
Pearl Harbor. That is when they wanted to go to war.
J: Do you remember being involved in any fund drives for scrap metal?
C: Oh, yes. We did all those kinds of things. I gathered it right and left. I turned in
everything I could think of. I did everything. I turned in all the gold and that
kind of stuff. They even wanted more of that after the 1932 gold business.
Sure. We did that all the time. It was big. We piled metal on the courthouse
square. Everybody would bring metal to that big pile. It was the patriotic thing
to do. We did not eat much. We had food stamps, and gasoline stamps. You
could not ride anywhere because the gas was all rationed to three gallons a
week. That is not much. That is the reason I like bicycles. I was in the gas
J: Can't beat that. You were in the right place.
C: But there was no cheating. No sir. You would not cheat in those days because
it was the wrong thing to do. There was a certain morality about World War II
that you did not cheat. It was one thing that you did not do. I could have
cheated in the filling station, but I did not cheat. I made them all turn in their
coupons. I never had any trouble with the board at all because I made them do
it, and people who I dealt with there wanted to do it right, too. They would walk
or ride their bicycles.
Tires were also a terrible problem. There were no new tires. All the
rubber was cut off by the Japanese. We were just getting synthetic rubber, and
they were recapping everything they could think of. It was very difficult to get
even a recap tire. Those were problems, but people lived with them.
J: Coeducation at the university was just around the corner from the time you
graduated. The university went coed in 1947. Did you all have any discussion
about that around the campus?
C: Not so much. I do not think the university cared one way or the other
particularly, to be honest with you. If anything, the university probably was
opposed to it. They wanted this thing to be the only boys school, and the
Tallahassee people did not want it. They wanted to be the only girls school.
They figured that if they had them both together, first thing you know, you would
have schools everywhere else, and that is what happened. But no, I would say
that we did not talk about it.
J: I would think that the war really slowed down travel between Tallahassee and
C: Well, if people went up there, they went with a truckload.
J: I bet you did not go up too many times either.
C: Did not go up near as much. No sir. Of course, I did not by that time because I
J: That is right.
C: It was a temptation but that is all.
J: Were there any law school politics at the time?
C: There were politics, yes. Politics for this and that and the other.
J: Were you involved in any of that. You were president of the class.
C: Yes, there was politics, but there were not too many opponents or anything like
that. You were selected because you were the only one, and that type of thing.
It was not quite that bad, but that is about the way it was.
J: Was there anything that you students believed you needed that you could get
from the administration and had to lobby for it, like better courses or better
C: No, we did not. There was not any of that kind of agitation. The faculty and the
students got along extremely well in law school and in other colleges. I guess
they were mostly held in awe. We would not have thought of doing what they do
to teachers today. That just was not heard of.
J: Different atmosphere?
C: Oh yes. Entirely different. You respected them as scholars. People have
changed. They will change again too.
J: We were talking about the practical aspects of law school. Did they have a
course in how to fill out a brief?
C: No. The closest thing to practical application in law school was Ila Pridgen in
how to look up cases in the books. She did teach that and it was an invaluable
course, and was much more than they get today. I could look it up better than
the ones coming out today because of what I learned there. But for the practical
aspect, that is about it. They did not have briefing and trial practice.
J: What kind of law did you want to practice when you graduated?
C: Like everybody else: anything I could get. There was not such thing as
specialization in those days. We did it all.
J: Were there many people that were in need of the law when you graduated?
C: Well, no, there were not. You did not need as many lawyers then as you do
J: What kind of money could you expect to make after you graduated?
C: I made $15 per week when I first took the job in the gas station. Let me put it to
you this way. Right on through, one of the guys had a pretty good job.
Everybody thought he did because he built himself one of the first FHA houses in
Gainesville, and he got $110 per month. That was a big salary. I would
imagine they paid me $100 per month, maybe $150.
J: What two firms did you work for?
C: Well, the one I am in now, and the one next door. In those days, it was Jordan,
Lazenby, and Bell.
J: They could not afford you?
C: They had me half time.
J: Was that Sam Bell?
C: Sam Bell. He was not here then. He was off at the war. Jordan was the man
who was there. Burkett Jordan. He was the senior man.
J: Before we talk about graduation and begin moving off into your practice I want to
talk a little bit more about entertainment. I guess football games were quite a
crowd pleaser, and you had basketball games on campus.
C: We had football games and basketball on campus. But the stadium only held
22,000 people, and it was never full. It just was not like it is now.
J: Was the south end of the stadium still open at that time?
J: Did you go to most of the games?
C: A good number of them, yes, except when I worked.
J: Your registration fee at the beginning of each semester would pay for those?
C: You did not get a ticket. You just had an activity card and you just went to the
gate and walked in and showed them the card and that was it. There was no
attempt to police it. I could give my card to a seventy-five-year-old fellow. He
could walk in if he wanted to. There was never any crowd. It did not make any
J: Same thing with the basketball team?
C: Yes. We never had any big crowds. Of course, they played in the old
gym.Well, the new gym is what they called it then. The new gym was to the east
of the stadium. It was where the infirmary used to be located.
J: Was it a wooden structure that has since been torn down?
C: That is right. That is where they played. I saw them play Alabama there one
J: Did we have any spectacular teams during the war years?
C: Not that I remember.
J: Would you go to the movies for entertainment?
C: Yes, we would go to the movies. Movies were the big thing. Everybody went to
the movies. Florida Theater was there. That was the only theater. The other
one was the Rose Theater where the colored people went. That was down on
Fifth Avenue, which was called Seminary Street then. The Rose Theater was
built by the Robbins boys. The Florida Theater was run by the Florida State
theater crowd. That is what is now the Main theater uptown. I think they called
it the Great Southern Music Hall. They changed shows about three or four times
a week. We would go quite frequently, and there would be a big line up and
down the street of people waiting to get into the show. Of course, when the
show got over, they would run out, and a new crowd would run in. It was pretty
full. You had big crowds.
J: Nickel theater?
C: Well, I think maybe it cost a dime at night, and I guess a nickle in the afternoon.
We would go at night, and Wise Drug store opened up about that time. He was
a pharmacist, but he sold soda pop and stuff to people waiting in line to get into
the theater. So Wise Drug got started because of the lines waiting to get into
the Florida Theater.
J: That is interesting.
C: You would go several times a week. If you did not have anything else to do you
would go to a movie. Now, I did not because I had to work, but a lot of people
went practically every change of picture. Later on, they built they other theater,
the Lyric Theater. Well, the Lyric Theater was on this street, Southeast First
Street, which was called East Main South then. They were opened most of the
time, but they had second rate movies. It was operated by the same people.
Later, they built the other theater. I forget the name of it. It was on University
Avenue about where the Gainesville Gas Company is now located. It showed
first line movies, too. Most everybody in town went to what they called bank
night, but that was before the war.
J: What was that?
C: Well, they would give away money. One day of the week they would have a big
drawing and give away money. They would give you a ticket and they would
draw it inside the theater. Now they did not do this at the Florida Theater. This
was always at the Lyric Theater. They were one block off the street. Once a
week, a Tuesday, I believe, they would have the bank night, and all the town
would show up there for bank night. Those people inside the theater would see
the drawing and those outside the theater could participate. If they happened to
draw your number, you would win the money.
J: How much money could you win?
C: Oh, several hundred dollars. It was a big item.
J: Did you ever win?
C: No. I went to bank night though. I was there a lot of times.
J: How much did it cost you to get in on bank night?
C: It did not cost you anything if you did not want to pay.
J: Just show up?
C: Sure. Get your ticket at the theater any other time. You could be on the street.
A lot of the town just went to the bank night and did not go to the movie.
J: Did anybody win that you knew?
C: I cannot remember who it was now. I am sure there were some people who
won. There were not too many people in town so some people had to win.
J: What else was there to do in Gainesville?
C: On the weekends you could go down to that same area, by the Hippodrome,
where the Pepper Printing Company was located. They put up a big bulletin.
You could follow what ever football or baseball games were going on. There
were not any loudspeakers. They would play it over the tape when they would
get the results: no hits, no runs, no errors. Everybody would sit there and
watch with soda pop and those kinds of things.
J: Are you a sportsman? Hunt or fish?
C: Oh, to some extent. I do not do as much as I used to.
J: Did you do any of that during law school?
J: Where would you go to fish?
C: We went to the Oklawaha River a lot. We would go to Orange Springs and put
in a boat there, and then run down the river and catch red bellies, and dodge the
snakes and hornets. We used to do that all the time. We would cook them
right on the bank.
J: Sounds like good eating.
C: Oh, wonderful eating.
J: Did any of the professors go fishing with you?
C: No sir. Oh yes, they would. I take that back. Professor George went with me.
He was the first teacher I encountered there, and he was brand new; he had
never taught a course in his life. He taught math, and had come from the
University of Pennsylvania. He was about my age; at least he looked like it. So
I asked him to go fishing, and he enjoyed dinner. He was a heck of a good guy.
A real fine fellow. His widow lives right around the corner from me today.
Lucille George. He is dead now. He was a good teacher. A good man. I
took him fishing several times. I also took Professor Ehrmann several times.
He was a teacher in sociology. He sometimes wanted to go fishing.
J: I talked with Lucille George about two months ago. She graduated from law
C: Right before me.
C: There were about four or five ladies here. It was her husband that I took fishing.
J: He was in engineering?
C: Before she married him, he was in engineering, but he majored in math and they
stuck him in calculus. I took calculus from him.
J: In this book, on the front page it talks about the fraternities being harassed. Do
you know anything about that?
C: By whom?
J: It does not say. It just talks about fraternities being harassed.
C: Not anymore than usual I would not think. I do not remember it.
J: What would they be harassed about?
C: Well, I guess there was some agitation there to cut out some of this horseplay
that went on. There was some of that. When I went in there was horseplay.
J: What is horseplay?
C: Whipping your fanny and those kinds of things. You would get a paddle and you
had to get everybody to sign the paddle. So some dummies would get a paddle
made out of some soft pinewood; it did not hurt as bad, but the fact remained,
after about ten or twenty people had signed it, some guy would take it and hit you
real hard with it and break the paddle. Then you would have to start over again.
So I just got a heavy paddle to begin with. They could not break it, but of
course they broke my rear end.
J: I bet they did.
C: I was big. They let me have it. They did that and the school did not like that
kind of stuff.
J: How about the townspeople? Did they have any problems with the fraternities?
C: No. I will give you an idea of what people thought about fraternities. All good
fun. There was always one time when they played tricks on you and those kinds
of things. Well, maybe more than once. One time, I remember specifically
when they took us up there and squirted us with High Life and poured mustard
on us. Then they took us out in the woods and let us go with only our shorts on.
Well, nobody even thought there was anything wrong with it. Nobody was
going to shoot you or anything. I remember one time they took me out. Of
course, you do not know where you are. You are way out in the middle of
nowhere. You got to watch out for the dogs because they could bite on you
pretty heavy without any clothes on. That made it even worse. It is always nice
to know where you are.
Well the time I went out, I remember specifically they let me out beyond
Lacrosse in northern Alachua county, and I finally wiggled around until I did not
know where I was. So I finally got to a house and it turned out to be Jap Harris'
house, who was a fine old fellow that lived in Lacrosse. So he and Mrs. Harris
loaned me some clothes, and I took a bath and got all cleaned up and then she
fixed a big meal for me. Then they drove me back into town and I got a good
night's sleep. I turned up the next morning with whatever I was supposed to get,
some weird sort of thing. Jap gave me that. I just went on home and got some
sleep and the next morning I had my clothes on. I said, "Well, you sure made it
hard on me. Hard as heck, but I did not do a thing." So they did not like that.
But the people did not mind it. Wherever you would go, people would say, "Oh,
come on in," and this kind of thing. That was a sign of the times, not so much
just the university. I think they would do that in almost anything. People were
friendlier than they are now, and not suspicious of you so much.
J: It is a problem. I bet that was the excitement of their life out there having you
come up to their front door in the middle of the night.
C: I think they liked it all right. Every time I saw the old man, he would say
something to me about it.
J: What did Jap do for a living?
C: He was in the state legislature.
C: Before then. He was a nice guy. He was an older man. I knew him when I
saw him. Everybody knew who he was, but I could have gone to other houses
like the rest of the buddies did. They had put us out singly. The other ones had
to go other places and they finally found houses. I never heard of anybody
saying anything except that they got the most wonderful hospitality in the world.
J: In your estimation would you say the law school suffered because of the war in
the time that you were in there? Were the enrollment figures down?
C: Sure. The enrollment figures were down, yes. Everything suffered because of
the war. Nobody did well unless they were a profiteer or something like that.
and he would not have enjoyed the adulation of the community like Rhett Butler
did during the Civil War. That is out of the novel. People around here who
profiteered from the war were considered pretty bad. There was a certain
morality in the country that I think does not exist today. Whether that is good or
bad, you will have to answer. But I would say it is bad, I would rather have it like
it was in those days.
J: Do you today hire lawyers who have just graduated from the law college to work
in your firm?
J: Do you try to work exclusively with people from the University of Florida, or do
you pretty much get them from all over?
C: I always get them from the University of Florida. It is so easy. I have not even
thought about other people. We get them from the University of Florida.
J: How do you see them in light of where you have been in your education?
C: Well, of course, there are smart ones now, and there were smart ones when I
was there. There are dumb ones now and dumb ones then. So, I do not see
much difference in it. Sometimes they are not quite as well-equipped. We never
paid any attention to international law, or the laws of the seas.We had admiralty
courts, but about all we learned were some things like salvage and that kind of
business. Time makes emphasis change. Nobody ever thought anything about
international law. Nowadays it is a big item, it is in a lot of places.
And, of course, property law is not as important as it used to be, I do not
believe. The lawyers have somewhat forfeited their right to handle property
matters to title insurance companies. Things of this nature have changed.
There are more litigates today. They want to sue you more. There is more
emphasis on bringing suits where you get big verdicts and pocket lots of money
which we did not think of so much in those days. Most of the time we worked
not on a contingent fee basis, but represented insurance companies, and in
those days, they certainly did not have any contingent fee for you.
J: What year did you graduate?
C: From the law school? I do not know. 1945?
J: Well, the book shows 1945, but you said you did not graduate with most of those
C: No sir, I do not think those people graduated when I did. There may have been
one other person in the class.
J: I wonder if you might have graduated with...?
C: Most of these people are later than me. I do not know why that seems to be the
case but it does.
J: I wonder if you might have graduated in the January session of 1945?
C: I could have. I do not remember that either. I know I was glad to get out.
J: Where was the ceremony held for graduation? Auditorium? Football field?
C: No. I think we graduated in the law school itself. I do not even know that we
went over with the rest of them.
J: Might have had your own little ceremony?
C: I think we did.
J: Were you given a diploma privilege at that time?
J: Or did you have to write off to Tallahassee and have them send that to you?
C: No. We did not have to do it at all. You took your diploma into to the circuit
judge and he swore you in. You did not go to the supreme court or anything.
Judge Murphree swore me in. I walked in his office, showed him the thing, and
that was it.
J: What do you think about the change from the diploma privilege to taking the bar
C: Well, of course, the motivating factor in both of them is to keep everybody from
practicing. At least, that is what I think it is. I know you could argue it. People
say, "Oh, we do not do things like that." Well, you might as well face up to it;
that is part of what goes on. That is the reason you have the examining boards
in the cities that judge people's proficiency to be a plumber. It is the same
principle. I do not think there is much difference to it. Maybe it is more humane
to do it the old way than the new way because they got rid of you in law school
before you got too entrenched. Think of it, if you were to take the law school
records and find out how many of them were practicing law that graduated from
that school, you would find a very small percentage. Now is it fair to those who
did not? It probably is not. The professors and administration who want the
school to be big argue that the training is wonderful for you anyway; it is the
same as the principle of a liberal education. You do not get too much practical
application out of studying Latin, though it is good for your mind. So I do not
know. It is a subject that has been under discussion for many, many years, and
centuries probably. I would think the old system would be better. To get them
out before they get entrenched. Now the idea is "Well, let's get them through
our part, let our school be big, and when they get out, let the lawyers run them
out." That really is sad.
J: So you would advocate toughening up the courses?
C: I would advocate toughening up the courses and let the law school put them out,
and you still might have the bar exam. Toughen up the law school so they get
out early and do not waste their lives doing something they are not qualified to
do. Maybe offer the diploma privilege, too. No matter what they say, they are
not all qualified. The idea that everybody is qualified to go to law school if they
pass those tests is not true.
J: How active are you with the law school today?
C: Not much. I know where it is. I can get there without having to ask directions.
J: It has changed a lot, though.
J: Physically to begin with, as well as academically.
C: Everyone's association with the law school gradually diminishes the older you
get. It is just one of those kinds of things. You have teachers, and you still
keep an association with them. When the teachers are all gone, you do not.
When you are younger you do a whole lot more things that put you in contact
with the law school, and you know the dean and then they run that dean off and
change, and then first thing you know, you do not even know who the people are.
I still give them money every year. I give donations to the law school. I
suppose they know where I am because they do send me the notification that it is
time again. But I do not have too much association with them. I would do what
they asked me to do. I do give money to them, and I do know some of the
professors who I respect very much. But I do not go out and see them very
much. I do not think any of us do.
J: Do you have a feeling of a close association with the law school today? I mean,
after all, it is your alma mater and you have spent a lot of time in Gainesville.
C: Well, I guess as much association as I would have with anything out at the
university, but I am out of school now and it is time for somebody else to enjoy
the associations that go with it. You get old. I am not that old, but I am old
enough where I have lost some contact with the academic life. I do not spend
much time at the law school now. I do not know whether I would do it, or could
do it, if I wanted to. I certainly would not go to sit and look at the students. We
can use the library if we want to. THey have the state cases that we need. But
even then I mostly send the young people out there to do it.
J: How many young people do you have?
C: Well, everyone is young compared to me, so there we go. I would say that there
are three or four of them I would send out here who are in the office.
J: What do you see for the future of law?
C: More work. More things to do.
J: Well, you said that property law has been taken away from the lawyers' domain.
C: That is right.
J: Do you see another type of law that is being practiced now?
C: Administrative law. Government. That is where the problem is. They keep
passing more laws. The people are not able to do things that they need to have
done for themselves. Everytime they turn around they pass something so
complicated that is requires a lawyer. What are people going to do about taxes,
income taxes on traveling? Think of that. That means more lawyers, more
accountants. Because they, the guys that are used to keeping the records, but
not the way that they want them kept. They are going to be denied their
deductions and they are going to go see lawyers. It is a continuous thing, and
the administration of government is causing all of these problems.
J: What are you doing about it? Are you shifting your practice one way or the other
to help accommodate?
C: No, not really. It gradually changes. If you do not have people come in on
something, you begin to get less emphasis on that and spend less time with you
on that, and they come in on new things. But I am not consciously doing it; it is
just evolving that way.
J: What would Dean Trusler or Clarence TeSelle say today about the law if they
C: I would suppose that they would represent the real old people. They would still
feel that the way they did it at that time was the right way to do it; I am sure they
would feel that way. But you realize that they became anachronisms along the
ways just like I am an anachronism to some extent because I am older, too.
There is a complete generation passed on since I have been there. My children
are forty years old. It is an entirely different thing from what it was in those days,
but I am sure that the way we did it was maybe better. I have indicated that to
you to some extent.
But I am not sure if I am absolutely right. If I get to the point I know I am
right, then I become too dogmatic to exist. But I do not feel that way. I feel
maybe they are right, but they have not proved it to me yet. The new people have
not proved to me that their way is right. Those new people are the generation of
my children. There is another generation coming along now that is going to feel
that their parents were old fogies and that they did not do it right. That puts
them two removed from me. But this is the way things go, and whereas we
obviously adapt to it to some extent, we do not become completely converted to
J: What kind of cases do you take in more than any other today? Do you still take
anything that walks into the door pretty much?
C: I do not. We do not do any criminal practice at all, and it is very seldom that we
fool with divorces and that kind of thing. We are mostly in business law and
corporations and those kinds of things. That is what I mainly do.
J: Well, I have talked with several local lawyers--Covington Johnston and Barton
Douglas. How do you compare your firm with theirs and their education?
C: They are fine gentlemen.
J: Yes, I think so too. I certainly enjoyed talking to them. And I have enjoyed
talking with you.
C: They are both good guys.
J: Do they do anything differently than you do? That is what I am really asking.
C: The answer is yes.
J: You are all successful. I do not think there is any doubt about that.
C: I guess that is right. They have different ways of doing things--different
philosophies and different ways of running their business.
J: They were all taught by the same people that taught you.
C: Exactly. I imagine every one of them had those same teachers. Certainly
Covington would. Barton would.
J: Is there anything else that stands out in your mind that you have just got to say
about the law school?
C: No, it was not the kind that had ivy on the wall, and I do not guess it does today.
I do not know. I do not know much else you can say except that times have
changed. But they will change. Do not worry. They will change for the next
J: They have already changed for me.
C: That is right. It changes. It swaps back and forth. So maybe there is
something to what Darwin had to say. His was a little bit more of a question of
survival, but things do change. The word evolve fits.
J: Well, speaking about survival, have you had occasions in your practice when
survival was really a serious consideration?
C: No, sir.
J: It was always been comfortable and pretty steady?
C: Yes sir, and it is all attributed to the number one answer and that is hard work.
That is what we have done. I have always done that. Dr. Crandall, "Pop"
Crandall, we called him, always said one thing that I remember. He liked to give
anecdotes and do things like that. He said, "I learned when I was up in
Michigan, where I had practiced law to begin with for a little while, that there is
one thing which I must do and that is to give the people the impression that I was
working hard. He said, "The way I did this was I always kept a light on every
night, and everybody thought I was working at night." Everybody said, "He is the
hardest working guy you ever saw." The most important thing for people to think
is number one, that you are busy, and number two, that you work hard. They
want you to pay that kind of attention to the things they bring you to do. Well, he
was right. That does happen. I personally never kept the light on, but it does
happen. So we did work hard and never had any problems. We never had any
blights on our reputation either. We tried to keep it on a high plane.
J: From the sound of talking to other people who knew Pop Crandall, it seems that
he was a congenial fellow, very pleasant.
C: He was a very nice man.
J: Was he intellectually sharp?
C: I think so.
J: I thought he practiced law before he came here, too.
C: Well, he may have, but to what extent, I do not think much. I do not think any of
them did much actual practice. They may have, though. He did because those
anecdotes about his turning the lights on in his office obviously meant he was
practicing. He wrote the rules of civil procedure. That was the big course he
J: Did you use his book?
C: Yes. Everybody used the book.
J: Trusler had a book on -
C: Constitutional law.
J: Florida Constitutional law?
C: Yes. It was about that thick. A red-colored book.
J: Used that book, too?
J: He had another book on the essentials of school law.
C: I think I used that one time, too. And I think, now that I remember, that was the
course which Mrs. Pridgen taught.
J: I saw a copy of that for sale over at the Book Gallery East about three weeks
ago. They wanted $27 for it.
C: School law, yes.
J: Probably went for $3.50 brand new when you bought it.
C: Yes, the one I am thinking about was about that thick and it was blue.
J: Yes. This cover has faded a little bit, but it looks like it was blue, dark blue.
C: Yes, that is right. That is exactly right. The constitutional law book had a red
cover, and it was a good book because you could follow it very well throughout.
J: That was the one written by Trusler?
J: It was well-written?
C: I thought so. I liked the way it was presented. It dissected the thing item by
item, and then gave you good cross-references. I thought it was a good book.
Crandall wrote the textbook on common law pleading. I was kind of in the
middle because common law pleading was the way Florida practiced law in those
days. Everything went by the common law. There were not any rules. You
did what the common law said, and that is the way you pled your cases. That is
what he taught. But we got the rules of civil procedure in 1938, and that is what
my uncle did. So, I took a pretty good licking from the professors about that.
J: How did that change the law in the way it was practiced?
C: Well, we had certain rules to go by, which cut it out. I will tell you what it did if
you really want to have it in a nut shell. It cut out a lot of durn foolishness we
used to do. In those days, you could follow a complaint which was called a
declaration in those days. That was the first paper that a plaintiff would file
against a defendant. Then the defendant woudl come in and keep making what
we called demurrers. A demurrer stated that what you said is not right and even
if it was right, it would not give you a right to sue; it was a stalling tactic. We
used those things all the time, just as a matter of course. A month later we
woudl put in another paper and another paper. You cannot do that now. This
dilatory stuff does not go now. These rules have now tightened it up so that you
get to the issue quicker, and there is less horseplay.
J: Has it really sped up the operation?
C: It sped up the operation as far as getting through the pleadings, but not as far as
total time. There are still too many cases and not enough judges. Back in
those says the judges could get to you a lot quicker.
J: So people today are using the law as a method in which to have justice done for
them, or have their rights served as they see them.
C: Well, they did it then, back in the old days, too. That is what the idea of it was.
The lawyers used a lot of mumbo jumbo and other things. You could fool
around with those things, and you would have hearings. They just did a lot of
that in the old days. It just does not work that way now. You do not practice
law that way anymore. You start putting those demurrers in one after the other
and having hearing after hearing out there. One of these judges after a while
would say, "Listen, I have had enough of this stuff. File your durn answer to this
thing. Let's get it issued and get it over with." Back in those days it was all just
a game; you would file and go over there and fool with the judge fifteen or twenty
minutes without any appointment. After a month the other guy would say, "Let's
go over and argue it." It was a highly informal thing.
J: Did you know that was going to happen when you were in law school? Did you
know that is how the proceedings were going to change? Would TeSelle say,
"Well, this is what you can expect."?
C: I knew some of that was going on in law school. But, you did not even think
about the other one. It was kind of revolutionary talking about the new way of
doing it. It was a long time before they passed it in this state.
J: What did they think about the new way?
C: The professors?
C: They did not care anything about that. They made fun of it. But TeSelle liked it.
TeSelle was the advocate of it. Crandall did not care much for it. He liked the
old way. Trusler did not want too much to change. Sloogy, a guy that would
not change his test questions, you know he did not care about it too much.
Although, it was not a topic of discussion. It was not debated. Mr. TeSelle urged
it. TeSelle did not like the dilatory way of doing things. He thought you ought to
get to the issue; more of what they are doing today.
J: How about Trusler?
C: No, I did not think Trusler was hankering for too much of a change.
J: And Jimmy Day?
C: They would not be preaching for the change because the law was as it was.
They were teaching the law as it existed. TeSelle was advocating the changes.
The changes did not come from the law school. The changes came from the
J: Why would TeSelle like it?
C: Maybe they had that type of thing in Wisconsin, I do not know. He always
preached it. He preached a change in the bankruptcy. He was crazy about that
J: He was just a radical old guy.
C: Well, to that extent he was radical. Of course, that is what they finally around to
doing. Maybe he was radical. You know, Ibsen [Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906),
Norwegian poet and playwright] says the minority is always right. Do you know
that play? Have you ever seen Hedda GabbleO
C: He says minorities are always right. He says it just takes time for the majority to
catch up with them.
J: So there is an element of philosophy and truth in that.
C: Yes, that is right. That was Ibsen's idea.
J: Well, again I want to thank you for sharing your information with me, and I am
sure that the law college will appreciate what you have shared.
C: I do not know whether I have shared anything worthwhile, but I hope I have.
[End of the interview]